Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond turned down a hefty multi-year contract extension over the winter. Heyman’s sources estimate the extension was at least six years in length and between $80 to $90 million in value. The two sides eventually agreed on a two-year, $17.5 million deal in January to avoid arbitration.
Desmond, 28, has become one of the league’s best shortstops. Over the last two seasons, he has hit at least 20 home runs and stolen 20 bases while posting an aggregate .812 OPS. According to FanGraphs, he has actually been the most valuable shortstop in baseball since the start of the 2012 season, with an even 10.0 WAR. Baseball Reference is a bit less kind, pegging him as third-best with 7.1 WAR, with the discrepancy occurring mostly due to defensive metrics. Either way, he has turned into quite a valuable player.
While it will be nice for the Nationals to lock up a key player at a key position, they’ll eventually have to do the same with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann. The Nationals currently have a $129.5 million payroll according to Cot’s Contracts, and already have $84 million committed for the 2015 season.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.